High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. It’s mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. Consistently high cholesterol levels can raise your risk of heart disease so it’s vital to keep it at bay.
There are two ways of having a cholesterol blood test:
- Taking blood from your arm
- Finger-prick test.
What happens next
If you have high cholesterol, a medical professional will talk to you about how you can lower it.
Diet and exercise offer the most effective countermeasures against high cholesterol.
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet, they can actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
“Cutting down on saturated fat and replacing some of it with unsaturated fats is a great way to lower your cholesterol,” explains cholesterol charity Heart UK.
Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter, lard, ghee, fatty meats and cheese.
Foods containing unsaturated fats include:
- Vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils
- Avocado, nuts and seeds
- Fat spreads made from vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive oil
- Oily fish.
“Oily fish are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically a type called omega-3 fats,” notes Heart UK.
“Aim to eat two portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily,” advises the charity.
“A portion is 140g, but you could have two or three smaller portions throughout the week.”
According to Mayo Clinic, moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.
“With your doctor’s okay, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week,” explains the health body.